Keswick Mountain Rescue Team | Equipment
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Keswick Mountain Rescue Team has a very broad range of equipment, to cover many different types of rescue situations. Medical emergencies, crag rescues, searches and swift water rescue are just a few examples of the situations that the team is prepared to respond to.


As mentioned in the vehicle pages, the team has 2 Land Rovers and a Ford Transit minibus. The two Land Rover vehicles are identically equipped and laid out, so that the team has the capability to respond to two callouts at the same time. The Ford Transit minibus carries a reduced amount of equipment and is used mainly as a people-carrier/ambulance.


The equipment is distributed into rucksacks and stored in the rear of the Land Rover vehicles ready to be deployed on the hill. A tagging system has been designed by the team so that on taking an equipment rucksack from the vehicle, a small identity tag is removed and hung on the rear door. This system allows other team members to see very quickly what equipment has already been taking on the hill.


Medical Equipment

In this picture a selection of medical equipment from one of the Land Rover Vehicles has been laid out on display.

On the left hand side is the defibrillator, carried in the yellow rucksack. The green rucksack is known as ‘Immediate Care’ and carries the more urgent medical equipment. Items in this rucksack include: airways, oxygen-giving set, resuscitation equipment, neck collars, surgical gloves, maps, flares and casualty monitoring cards.

The centre small rucksack is a doctor’s bag and carries equipment exclusively for the use of team doctors and paramedics. It carries more advanced casualty care equipment.

In front of the doctor’s bag, in the centre of the picture, is the Propaq monitor. This piece of kit is used by team members to closely monitor a casualty. It gives readings of blood pressure, heart rate, pulse rate, temperature and oxygen saturation.

On the right hand side of the picture is the red ‘Casualty Care’ rucksack. This is a more general first aid pack and includes such items as: assorted bandages, fracture straps, padding, and small splints.

On the far right hand side of the picture is a standard box splint, used by the team to immobilise lower leg injuries.


The team carries two main climbing equipment rucksacks, in addition to the ropes. One rucksack contains several harnesses for use by team members. Each harness is identically kitted out with the same basic items, so that a team member can make himself safe. This includes a sling and karabiner, two prussik cords, a figure of eight belay device, and a Purcell adjustable prussik.

The crag rucksack is the heavier of the two rucksacks and carries all the rescue team’s hardware for dealing with steep ground rescues.

This includes 3 equipped harnesses and 3 helmets for team members and an empty harness and helmet for the casualty. This allows an advance group to get to work safely while the rest of the equipment is being carried to the scene.

The crag rescue sack also contains all the team’s hardware for setting up belays on steep ground. Including slings, screwgate carabiners, quickdraws, camming devices, nuts, pitons, pulleys, 8mm cord, prussiks and lowering devices. Currently the team uses a rescue rack for main line control and the Canadian 540 device for safety line control during lowering operations.

Due to the variety of crag heights in our area and to afford the team maximum flexibility, several different lengths of rope are carried in each Land Rover. This includes 2 x 600 foot ropes, 3 x 300 foot ropes, and 1 x 200 foot rope. These are all 10.5mm diameter, low stretch ropes. We also carry 1 x 200 foot dynamic rope for the rare occasions when we need to climb up to a casualty location.

The team keeps threatening to go metric with rope lengths, but so far, tradition is winning.


Casualty Packaging

This picture shows some of the equipment carried in a team Land Rover for treating casualties and making them more comfortable.

At the rear of the picture is the Split Thomas Stretcher. The stretcher comes in two halves with rucksack-type carrying straps for ease of transportation to the casualty site. The two halves are then easily assembled and ready for use. The red straps on the stretcher are used to secure the casualty in place and telescopic carrying handles extend from each end.

It takes six people to carry a loaded stretcher, 1 at the front, 1 at the rear and two on either side.

To keep a casualty warm during treatment and evacuation a casualty bag is used. This is a much beefed up version of a sleeping bag with a waterproof/windproof outer and a fleece/pile inner. It has a full length zip so that the casualty can be laid on it and then it is zipped up around them.

Also shown is a full body vacuum mattress used to immobilise a person who has a suspected back injury. The casualty is carefully moved onto the mattress using specialist lifting techniques. The mattress is then folded around the person and the air is drawn out of the mattress using a hand pump. Once all the air is drawn out, the mattress is the completely rigid and immobilises a person’s back. The big advantage of a vacuum mattress is that the casualty can remain packaged inside for as long as necessary. With the traditional back/spinal boards, a person can only remain on them for around 50 minutes before developing painful pressure sores. The vacuum mattress can also safely be passed through an X-ray or CT scanner, minimising movement of the casualty once at hospital.

At the bottom of the picture is a standard leg box-type split for immobilising lower leg injuries, and also Oxygen and Entonox giving sets.



Every rescue has its own challenges and every rescue team has different terrain and techniques. Some teams favour just one type of stretcher and others have a range and choose the most appropriate stretcher for the circumstances. As previously mentioned, the Keswick team prefers the ” Split Thomas” stretcher. This can be seen in the centre of the picture.

The original Thomas stretcher was designed in the thirties by Eustace Thomas. The original Thomas stretcher had wooden runners, a cast aluminium frame and a canvas bed. The original Thomas stretcher came in one piece. In the sixties, Peter Bell of Kendal, split a Thomas stretcher, belonging to Keswick Team, into two halves to make it easier to carry to an incident.

In 1995, Keswick Team asked Peter Bell to make four new Thomas stretchers as a special order. These were custom-made to the Team’s specifications and were delivered to the team in 1996.

Keswick team also experiments with several other types of stretcher, in the search to – one day – replace the Split Thomas type in current use. However the team still favours and actively uses the Spilt Thomas stretchers on callouts at present.

To the left of the picture (standing up) is a Bell Mark 3 stretcher and head guard, shown here folded. This type of stretcher is very popular in the Lake District.

To the right of the picture (standing up) is a MacInnes Mark 6 stretcher and associated wheel. The wheel is mounted under the stretcher and its purpose is to take some of the weight off the people carrying it.

At the front left of the picture is a Troll Alphin stretcher (shown folded) and at the front right is a MacInnes Mark 7 Superlight stretcher.


The Team has around 25 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) for members who may be deployed in, on, or near water. Each set comprises an enhanced “rescue” Buoyancy Aid” (with extra buoyancy, quick release tail, reflective piping, knife, whistle and glow stick), water rescue helmet and throw bag. We also have 10 dry suits for members who may need to enter water to effect a rescue.

In addition to this, we have two 200 foot floating lines and a boat complete with an outboard motor.

We regularly train both on Derwentwater and the local rivers – the Derwent and the Greta. Training is mostly run in-house where all team members have water awareness training. A large number of team members have also been on external courses to gain the Rescue 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technician Qualification.


Personal Equipment

The team has a responsibility to ensure that every team member is ready and equipped to face the many different extremes of weather – from high winds and heavy rain to snow and ice. Team members, therefore, are provided with the latest protective clothing and equipment for use during training and callouts.

Keswick team does not favour any one particular manufacturer or supplier, but prefers to choose the best available products for its particular requirements.

Shown in the picture is a team member wearing a variety of personal protective equipment issued by the team. All team members are issued with a heavy waterproof jacket for winter use, a lighter waterproof jacket for summer, a heavyweight windproof/fibre pile insulated smock for winter, waterproof overtrousers, full-zip fleece jacket, wicking base layer, hat, and gloves.

Other items such as head torches, radios, crampons and ice axes are also provided for use by team members.

All the equipment and clothing used by the team is replaced in accordance with a rolling programme, in order to help spread the cost evenly over a period of time.